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Government must heed warning on closure of A&Es – Ó Caoláin

28 August, 2007

Commenting on the new survey linking distance travelled by ambulance to hospital emergency departments to the risk of death, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has called on the Irish Government to heed the warning and to scrap plans to close A&E units around the State.

The survey carried out in Britain and just published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine confirms that increased distance from A&E departments is associated with increased risk of death.

Deputy Ó Caoláin stated, "The Irish Government must now heed this further warning which adds to the voices of communities throughout the State who are threatened with the loss of A&E units. Deaths have resulted from the cutting of A&E and maternity services, most notoriously here in Co. Monaghan.

"This latest survey result may seem obvious and it is all too tragically so for the communities served by Monaghan General Hospital who have seen deaths as a result of the longer journey times imposed by cutting of services to our hospital. However this is an important study because it was carried out in the context of current British government proposals to close A&E units in smaller hospitals.

"The policy of Health Minister Mary Harney and the HSE to dangerously over-centralise all acute emergency care services has been repeatedly rejected by the Irish people. The Government must scrap that policy and ensure that existing emergency services, including hospital A&E units and ambulance services, are enhanced and developed. Closed A&E units such as those at Monaghan must be fully restored. Nothing less is acceptable." ENDS

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